The Golden Dream (La Jaula de Oro)
Brandon Lopez, Rodolgo Dominguez, Karen Martinez, Carlos Chajon
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…a powerful and timely film…
Despite there being not much dialogue, there is no shortage of emotion in Mexican drama The Golden Dream (La Jaula de Oro).
What begins as an escape from a Guatemalan city – so normalised by gun-fire that the local children simulate it in their play – transpires into a story of three teenagers train-jumping their way to America in the pursuit of deliverance.
The fear of staying in Guatemala is more distressing than the passage to America, with Director Diego Quernada-Diez delivering a well-crafted narrative that is respectful to the plight of many South Americans whilst acknowledging a political climate determined to make the search for asylum increasingly more dangerous.
Whether it be the sheet metal that becomes the structure of their bedrooms or the terrifying structures guarded by helicopters and the military, the walls which deny characters refuge are more disturbing by the fact that The Golden Dream was initially released in 2013 and proceeded to win multiple awards including Cannes’ prestigious Un Certain Regard – eerily preceding, if not foreboding, of the anti-immigration movement ignited in Trump-era politics.
The three impeccably-acted leads, each offering their own motivations and perspective, are so accustomed to turmoil that they embody an inherent strength that sees them become resilient to the devastating events (and there are many) in The Golden Dream. Their difficulties in communicating with the mysterious Chauk (Rodolfo Dominguez) brings home the universality of the hardships experienced by refugees and the means by which children risk safety when fleeing danger zones.
Music throughout The Golden Dream offers a glimpse into the fighting spirit that lives in the Guatemalan culture while also inviting the audience to share in the teenagers’ sparsely seen moments of happiness.
The manner through which The Golden Dream establishes itself as authentic allows the emotional weight of the film to be easily absorbed and in doing so creates a powerful and timely film that pushes an agenda for open borders.